Meet Rachel and Drew: The Main Characters in The Shepherds of Donaldson Park

I have been writing furiously this month on my new book, The Shepherds of Donaldson park. It has been the best writing experience of my life. I have pushed myself to write a story with a bit of humor, a good bit of nice clean romance and a few feisty shepherds.

It can see the end of the book in sight and I thought I would share an excerpt from the book.  I would and should add in a delightful cover picture here, but alas, I am not at that stage of the process.

I can see it vividly in my head. Now I just need to get it on paper and even more importantly on the front of the book.

Instead I will show a picture one of the shepherds.

german-shepherd-puppy (1)

I will share a little bit of information about Rachel and Drew and leave the unfolding of their story for when you read the book.

Rachel’s Excerpt:

Rachel Payton woke up alone in her bed to the sound of her dogs milling around in the bedroom.  The wakeup call was familiar to her since they started to stir about right at six ‘clock every morning.

She sat up; leaned back against the wooden headboard of the queen sized sleigh bed before grabbing the phone and checking the time. She might as well check for any messages from the night before. This was a habit she formed quickly after getting her new phone.

This phone had all the bells and whistles. It had quickly become her most valuable tool, her lifeline to family and friends. She could search the internet, check out Facebook and read a few emails without ever leaving the cozy bed. Taking a few precious seconds to fully wake up before heading out into the chilly morning, she made use of the phone.

Twenty minutes later Rachel was turning on the coffee pot that had been prepped last night, she shuffled around in the oversized jacket which was slug over her sleeping gear of yoga pants and a tank top. Rachel smiled looking around the cute kitchen; she felt the familiar stirrings of love for this bungalow she had recently purchased. Sure, it had taken her almost a year to save up for the down payment, but now it was hers, monthly payments, brand new expensive hot water heater and all.

A year, hard to believe it had only been a year since her world came crashing down around her ears.  A year seemed so long unless you were living it, surviving it. Dealing with life altering decisions and making them work for you. Actually, Rachel thought, a year is not really so very long.

Drew’s Excerpt:

Drew walked over to the passenger door and opened it. He reached for her hand before  Rachel could  drop to the ground.  He did not loosen his hold on her hand even after her feet landed on the driveway.  He walked along side of her, enjoying the feel of her hand in his. They walked side by side down the long stone pathway and  up the five steps leading to the wide wraparound porch. He unlocked the front door with his free hand, before showing her into the house.

His boots sounded loudly on the tiled floor of the foyer. He stopped so that he could pull off his jacket and hang it on one of  the pegs behind the door.  Leading her through the house he pointed out various doors that opened off of the long wide foyer.  drew opened one of the wooden doors and they were entering a spacious brightly lit room.

At first all Rachel could see was a wall made up of three extremely wide windows that also ran from floor to ceiling. The wall of windows was framing the beautiful pastures outside, like a well hung canvas.

“Oh, Drew! What a lovely view you have!  I could sit here all day and just watch the wind blow the grass and the clouds flowing across the sky.  How do you leave it?”

Rachel sank into a high back chair that sat facing the large set of windows. The light flickered across the room as clouds passed briefly in front of the sun.  Drew stood next to her still clasping her hand, gently rubbing his thumb over her knuckles.  He loved the way her skin felt, firm and soft.

“I’m glad you like it here.  It has always been a special place for me and I have never really wanted to leave here.  I feel like I am bound to this Farm, and it is a very good feeling.”

I would love to hear what you think about Rachel and Drew.  That is my subtle way of asking you to please provide me feedback in the comment section.  🙂

11 thoughts on “Meet Rachel and Drew: The Main Characters in The Shepherds of Donaldson Park

  1. Oh my goodness, the puppy is adorable. It’s hard to pass up a romance with animals (especially shepherds!) involved. =)

    What kind of feedback would you like on the excerpts? You specifically ask about the characters themselves; are you also looking for writing style/tone/pacing feedback?

    As for the characters:

    I love that Rachel is recently coming out of a hard time in her life–but that the hard time wasn’t so recent that she’s still (if she ever was) broken by it. It’s so frustrating to read romances that take place days or weeks or even a couple months after a massive tragedy (or other life-crashing-down situation), because those characters probably wouldn’t be ready to start a serious, healthy relationship quite yet. (That was one of my main problems with The Wrath and the Dawn, actually!) Anyway, Rachel’s recent-ish life troubles and the fact that she’s clearly making a beautiful new life for herself both get gold stars from me.

    The Drew excerpt doesn’t really show any of his personality or history; we just learn that he likes Rachel’s soft skin, and he likes his Farm. But I’d love to live somewhere with views like his. So jealous! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your feedback is perfect. I am not too good at picking out excerpts. Drew does like her soft skin!
      Maybe I should have chosen a different excerpt for him. Did it make you interested in their story?

      It has more than 1 adorable puppy in it! I want Rachel to grow through the book and I personally feel that she does.
      That excerpt is the very first thing you read about Rachel. So it is to tell where she is, on day 1 of this story. A year out from her hard time.

      Where she is at the end is even stronger. That’s what I hope to convey.

      Did you see anything wrong with the pacing, writing style or tone? This is the time to tell me LOL 🙂 I really appreciate your feedback!

      Are you interested in being a beta reader when this is finished? You have great insight!


      1. Picking excerpts can be tricky! I’d definitely recommend a different excerpt for him–and for her, too.

        The type of excerpt that catches my attention shows the characters (a) in a moment of interesting action and/or emotion, (b) in conflict with themselves/someone/something (because conflict = tension = engaging reading!), and (c) showing off their personalities.

        So “she wakes up, looks at her phone, and looks around her house while thinking about her life” is, to me, a bit boring, even though it does show a hint of her background and her inner strength.

        I’d suggest you start looking at the places in the story where the characters are feeling a strong emotion: embarrassment, frustration, anger, curiosity, etc. I’d avoid purely happy emotions (contentment, joy, love, etc) because readers are drawn in by tension and conflict, not by relaxed, conflict-free happiness.

        The same principle applies to how you start your story, too: you want the story to open in a moment of interesting action and/or emotion, probably with the character in conflict with themselves/someone/something, and definitely with that character showing off their personality. So I’d strongly suggest you consider tweaking the way your book starts, to avoid having the reader sit through Rachel’s morning routine.

        As for the writing style: the descriptions seem a little bit off, in my opinion. Sometimes there isn’t enough description, and sometimes there’s too much. That’s an easy thing to edit, though!

        For example, when it says Rachel woke up “to the sound of her dogs milling around,” I’m left to wonder what “the sound” is. Thumping of tails against the walls and furniture (and each other)? The click of toenails on the wooden floor? Snuffling as they examine her nightstand for snacks? Are we hearing two quiet dogs, or a rowdy pack of ten?

        As another example of too little description, we’re not told enough (in my opinion) about the environment/setting in Drew’s excerpt. I want at least a few more little details to paint me a picture of the setting: are Rachel’s high heels wobbly on the gravel driveway? Is the red paint on the house fading to orange after years of long, bright summers? When they enter the house, does it smell of bleach from a recent cleaning (that makes Drew cough), or dog hair (that makes Rachel joke about “smells like home”), or layers of untouched dust (that embarrasses Drew and leads him to apologize for the state of the house)? You don’t have to get bogged down in details, but a few little tidbits woven into the characters’ actions would definitely help.

        On the other hand, “She sat up; leaned back against the wooden headboard of the queen sized sleigh bed” seems to be cramming a bit too much description in, instead of too little. Depending on how close a connection you want to build between Rachel and the reader, you might consider only describing things she would be paying attention to at that moment: whatever the dogs are doing, the action of pushing off the too-hot comforter, the groan of the headboard when she leans against it.

        Chances are she isn’t actually thinking to herself “I am sleeping in a queen-size sleigh bed.” At least, I don’t think about the size and style of my bed when I’m waking up! Describing things that the character wouldn’t notice or think about creates a very big gulf between the reader and the character–like the reader is watching the character from far above, instead of from beside or inside the character.

        As a different example of being too descriptive: it describes at length the functions and uses of Rachel’s phone. Just saying that she unlocked her phone and spent a few minutes scrolling through Facebook would suffice, since most (if not all) of this book’s audience will already know that most cell phones can access the Internet.

        Something else you might want to pay attention to is the pattern of the writing. Especially in Drew’s section, there’s a very simple and repetitive rhythm: He ___ed and ___. He ___ed before ___. He ___ed and ___.

        Rhythms like that have the effect of lulling the reader to sleep, which is great in children’s books, but not in adult romances! Maybe play around with changing up the sentence structure, and finding new ways to weave description, action, and emotion together.

        Definitely pay attention to how much emotion is coming across through the writing, too. As the writers, WE know what the characters are feeling at all times, but it’s important to make sure those emotions come through for the readers.

        The first 90%-ish of each excerpt feels emotionless; only toward the end does each character feel a gentle sense of contentment. The characters don’t need to be on an emotional roller coaster, but it’d be nice to see (for example) Rachel groan and cover her face with a pillow for a moment before sitting up (maybe a little grumpy because she didn’t get enough sleep), or Drew picking at a hangnail while watching Rachel take in the house (hoping she’ll like it, worried that she won’t).

        And one last thing: don’t forget what’s happening in the background! Rachel wakes up to the sounds of her dogs milling around her bedroom, and then she’s checking Facebook, having a leisurely cup of coffee, thinking about life. But what happened to the dogs? Did they disappear? Shouldn’t she let them outside, or feed them, or at least talk to them? This is a problem I’ve struggled with a lot, myself: forgetting that the world keeps on spinning around the protagonist.

        Luckily, all these little things are fairly easy to notice once you’re aware of them, and also pretty easy to fix. Just takes practice, and another round of editing. =)

        I’m not open for beta reading right now; as you can see, I write novella-length critiques of tiny excerpts, so you can imagine how much time (and how many pages!) it’d take me to critique a whole novel. But I’d definitely suggest you poke around, if you haven’t found it already. Along the left side of the page, you’ll find links to a few different “How To” series that I’ve found invaluable, and you can use the search function on the upper right side of the page to find great articles about pretty much everything. Doing a search for “description” brings up pages and pages of great advice, for example.

        Sorry I talked so much. Hopefully I said something helpful! And I’m looking forward to learning more about your story. =)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s the problem with excerpts, They only catch a tiny bit and the other things, .like the dogs own routing is in the next pages. I am still in the writing process, so I have plenty of room for improvement, before I even get to the actual editing. I am getting a feel of how someone else feels about it so far. I welcome the information. It is all being taken to heart! It is funny, I started it a different way and changed it to this. I may go back to my original. I can see what you mean about the action and the descriptions. The dogs bring it to life at first then the couple takes over with the dogs joining in. I appreciate the link too! I look forward to providing the finished, edited copy. The dogs are heading outside now!! 🙂 Mine are too! So I have to stop replying here. Thank you again! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Seems like that’s the writer’s standard state of being: in the writing process and always finding room for improvement. We’re doomed to never attain perfection. =)

        Dogs bring everything to life, don’t they? Hope you have a great time writing this story!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am loving it. Always a process. I love when the dogs are in a scene. It just all comes together. Since I have two shepherds in my house, I am writing about what I know. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think both characters sound well rounded -and it is the beginning to a great love story (but possibly tragic). Anyway, I hope it writes out just as you envision. Thanks for visiting my site.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s